“Sisu” is a Finnish word, impossible to translate. According to the opening scroll it refers to the white-knuckled courage of a person unafraid of death that appears when all hope is lost. A sentiment embodied by the movie’s grizzled, unspeaking lead. Referred to as “The Immortal” by those lucky enough to escape his war path, this retired Rambo goes to-toe-to with a platoon of sadistic Nazis in the dying days of World War II. Movies like The Expendables need an entire crew of badasses to get the job done but Jorma Tommila’s (Rare Exports) ‘man with no name’ is a one-man death squad.
After striking gold in the remote mountains of Finland he has the misfortune of crossing paths with a group of pricks looking for a meal ticket now that the Allies are finally closing in. Without warning, he’s thrust back into a violent life he left behind, forced to kill these relentless bastards every way he knows how. And oh boy does he know how to make killing look like an art form. His medium is mayhem and his canvas is every square inch of the Finnish countryside.
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This mean m*therf*cker takes on a dozen guys underwater without coming up for air. He straps himself to the undercarriage of military trucks after playing Hide And Go Seek through a minefield. He grips the outside of a plane like a living nazi nightmare at 20,000 feet- and he does it all like it’s just another day at the office. You never forget how to ride a bike, and I guess you never forget how to kill 100 people with your bare hands either. Needless to say, this dang movie really earns its R rating.
Every character in Sisu talks about “The Immortal” with a mix of awe and fear. Similar to Keanu Reeves’ John Wick, he’s something of a boogeyman because he is a killing machine with no off switch. But that doesn’t mean this is at all easier for him. It’s what makes Jorma Tommila’s character and his performance so great. He is no superhero. He simply refuses to die. He endures every injury and attack, never playing down the pain of a violent life, but never allowing the reaper to take him.
Sisuis one of the goriest action movies of the last decade, delivering a 50 megaton explosion of blood and guts and body parts. It’s devilishly creative in its macabre set pieces and comes out guns-a-blazing from the start. It doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, it’s doesn’t overstate its point, and it never tips too far into the grim realities of war to zap the fun out of its over-the-top hooray! action sequences. Sisu is brutal, bonkers and a boat load of f*cked-up fun.
“Sisu is brutal, bonkers and a boat load of f*cked-up fun. “
Jalmari Helander’s Sisu was an official selection of Panic Fest 2023 and hits theaters April 28. Click HERE to follow our continued coverage of the midwest’s coolest damn festival and let us know what you think of this gory action adventure over on Twitter or in the Nightmare on Film Street Discord!